The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time
October 15, 2020 7:54 AM EDT

Although the wizard Ged plays a role in Ursula K. Le Guin’s second Earthsea novel, at the center of this story is Tenar, a girl taken as a child from the Viking-like Kargish empire to become high priestess to the Nameless Ones (the ancient spirits of the titular tombs). Praised as a more revolutionary protagonist than her predecessor, Tenar—or Arha, the Eaten One, as she’s forced to become—must reconsider everything she knows to be true about her endlessly lonely role as guardian of the tombs’ sacred underground labyrinth. Only she may enter, but an unexpected stranger arrives to steal an invaluable treasure and it’s up to her to stop him. The bulk of the action in The Tombs of Atuan takes place within the perpetually dark confines of the labyrinth, but it’s Tenar’s inner struggle against the social constructs that define her life that carries this Newbery Medal-winning novel. —Megan McCluskey

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